Some questions about Dungeon!

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I know I'm a few months late to the party, but I just got Dungeon!, and in my inaugural play of it, I ran into a few snags.

Per the "rulebook," it seems that you do not have to actually defeat a monster to claim treasure from the room; there are no conditionals to looting other than whether you encountered a monster within a room or a chamber. Is my read of this correct? It seems off to be able to loot a room while a monster is still there, but unless I'm missing something that seems to be how it works.

Also, there do not appear to be any rules for what happens if you have no treasure when you are required to drop treasures. I'm going to assume "nothing" is what happens, but with no rules text that is merely an assumption.

And lastly, only three of the results from the monster attack table actually result in your character leaving the room. If your character is not forced to leave the room, must you stay and do combat with the monster when your turn rolls back around (abiding by the "you must stop when you enter a room with a monster" rule), or can you leave the room (since you didn't "enter" the room)?

It's cool that the "rulebook" is so compact, but it does leave some unanswered questions. Either way, using improvised answers to these questions (rules as written for the looting without killing the monster issue resulted in fast play, at least, and running away was allowed as well) left us with a fun and playable game. I just would like some clarification to see if I can get this confusion cleared up!
They may have changed the rules a bit for the newest version of Dungeon!, I don't have a copy of it nearby to tell for certain.

But, for the 1989 version of "The New Dungeon!" with the contemporary expansion (which, admittedly, we house-ruled heavily):

1.  You have to kill monsters in rooms to get their treasure.  You have to kill monsters in rooms or chambers to take treasure dropped by players.  (Exceptions to this are the "Teleport Treasure" spell used by the Gnome Illusionist character from the expansion set for that edition of the game, which is explicitly designed to "steal" treasure from monsters without fighting them).

2. As far as dropping treasure is concerned, nothing happens if you have no treasure to drop:  the monster tried to "mug" you, and got nothing for its effort.  (If you are stunned or injured by the monster, those effects do still take place, though, even if you don't have treasure to drop in the attack.)

3. You can retreat from the monster at the beginning of any turn you can move on, you are not forced to fight to the death.  You do have to fight the monster immediately after entering a room or chamber and turning its card over, though (you can't jump into the room, look at the monster, and change your mind about being there... you'll have to fight the monster if you can, and retreat at the beginning of the next turn if you can.  Of course, as exceptions, the Crystal Ball and ESP Medallion, and the expansion Halfling's "Listen" ability, do allow you to peek at the monster and decide whether to fight.)



In case you were wondering:
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"The New Dungeon!" came with "beginner" rules, which I think were a throw-back to the earliest version of the game (back when the classes were "Hero" and "Superhero"), contained a more modern set of rules as a kind of "Normal" mode, and a couple pages of "advanced" rules, which were basically suggested house rules.

The expansion set came as a set of very nice metal miniatures (an alternative to the nice plastic miniatures from that version of the game), new sets of spell cards and character cards (the character cards were not as good as the ones that came in the main game:  the main game had for each of the character classes two named male and one named female character with hilariously cheesy cartoon portraits, while the expansion had one card for each class featuring a nameless photo of the metal miniature.)  The expansion set included a miniature for each of the main game's classes (Warrior, Thief, Paladin, Wizard, Elf, Dwarf), as well as some new classes (Cleric, Gnome, Ranger, Halfling).  The classes really weren't balanced very well, with the Cleric getting the short end of the stick (he almost always lost the game, rolling on the same numbers Elves have to roll on to hit, unable to heal himself, only able to heal once per dungeon level, and must heal even for free when a player demands it), and the Paladin having the easiest time of it (the Paladin's unlimited healing ability and decent fighting ability made the Paladin a "no-brainer").


Our house-rules included:


  • Wounded!  Characters are wounded on a 3 [serious wound, drop half treasure and retreat one space] or 4, 5, 6 [light wound, drop single treasure and retreat one space]; Flip the character card face down; a two unhealed wounds kill the character

  • Modifying the rules to use D12's instead of two D6's to attack (probably did weird things to game balance, but we played that way for so long, nobody could remember what it was like to roll two D6's).  It seemed like it was easier to get killed by monsters, though, and harder to hit them.

  • You get to choose which treasure to drop when stunned or wounded; typically, the most worthless treasures would get dropped (though sometimes, someone would do something weird, like drop a spare magic weapon or a good treasure for the benefit of a less fortunate nearby character.)  If forced to drop a treasure as a result of being mugged by a Thief, the Thief gets to choose which treasure to steal.

  • Allowing the Cleric to use a different number to hit, choice between blue or white.  (Didn't seem to help much, the Doomed Cleric was kind of a running joke in our group.)

  • The Wizard could use the Gnome Illusionist's spell cards, and vice-versa

  • We laid out the treasure cards and monster cards on the game board at the beginning of the game (the game board in that edition was quite large, and the rooms and chambers more than big enough to hold the cards.)  The cards were removed as monsters were defeated and treasure looted.

  • We kept treasure face-down on the table, except the occasional brave soul who made a point of leaving it face up (treasure face down made it less of a temptation for the ever unpopular Thief to steal it from you.)

  • Chambers never have treasure, and have three monsters each except for the Level 1 "Start" chamber (I think this was a real rule, but it might as easily have been a house rule.)

  • Characters did not try to go home to win until most, or all, the monsters were defeated.  Often, players would team up as miniature parties of two or three characters to clear a level, typically Level 5 or Level 6, and unofficially considered it a "win" if they cleared the level before the Warrior collected enough treasure from Level 1 and 2 to win.

  • If a Slide trap is revealed in a room, the treasure stays behind with the slide; other characters can then take the treasure without getting trapped.  If a slide trap is revealed in a Chamber, any of the remaning monsters in the chamber slide, too.  (Hilarity ensues.)

  • Slides in Level 3 send characters to Level 4, and so on (higher numbers are deeper into the dungeon).

  • Halflings can't listen to Chambers - there's too much monster activity going on in there!  (Halflings listen at doors, and chambers don't have doors anyway, but the description of Halflings trying to listen to a big chamber full of monsters always seemed to help new players visualize the problem.)

  • Cooperation:  if it's not your turn, but you are in a room with a monster and the character who is in turn is attacking the monster, you can choose to cooperate, giving a +1 bonus to the attack; you can cooperate with spellcasters outside the room, and more than one character can cooperate if the cooperating characters are all in the same room (this was in the rule book, in so many words, but apparently was missing in some versions of the game)

  • Ranger should declare whether using double attack before rolling, but typically didn't (nobody could ever remember to mention it); Ranger uses double-attack ability unless the player specifically says otherwise

  • Wizards and Gnomes cannot use magic weapons (that's probably in the original rules, but could just as easily have been a house rule); typically, the Wizards would give the magic weapons away free to characters who just died and had to restart (not a house rule, but sort of a tradition.)

  • It's OK to jeer at the Cleric:  he's a lost cause, and the player running the Cleric knows it.  It's kind of uncool for the Warrior, Ranger, Thief, or Gnome to hang out below Level 3, or for the Paladin or Wizard to hang out below Level 5.  It's "cheap" for Elves to quickly snatch up 10,000gp of loot from Level 2 and run home, unless there's more than one character hanging out in Level 2.  It's generally uncool to "steal" dropped treasure from a character who died, unless the character is a Paladin, Thief, Wizard, or a character who's been loafing at a safer level that he/she should be at.  (These are not house rules, but a tradition... characters who broke the tradition to bottom feed regularly got jeered at.)



"The New Dungeon! (1989)" came with some great, purple-coloured plastic miniatures, which were a bit on the small side compared to more modern miniatures.  D&D Miniatures make decent replacements for cardboard standups or generic plastic boardgame pawns.  However, Caesar Miniatures's 1/72 fantasy miniatures line (link) make excellent replacement pieces for classic editions of "Dungeon!", because of the rather charming retro-1980's look for these miniatures; Caesar's Dwarves, Elves, and especially the Adventurers are highly recommended for this purpose.  (The expansion set, as mentioned above, came with slightly larger, metal versions of the original plastic miniatures, but looked mostly the same, and added four new miniatures to match the new classes in the expansion; most of the 10 miniatures in the expansion were probably more mainstream Ral Partha sculpts.)



The official "Optional Rules" from "The New Dungeon! (1989)":



  • Optional Setup:  put one monster and one treasure in each room, and three monsters in each chamber, as described in the house rules above.

  • Special Chambers:  chambers had a little icon in the corner and a label, depicting special abilities which are active when the Chambers are emptied of monsters:


    • 3rd Level Chambers are pools of healing; instead of moving or fighting a character can choose to heal wounds

    • 4th Level Chambers are teleport devices; a character may teleport from one Level 4 chamber to anothe instantly

    • 5th Level Chambers hold magical tomes; a Wizard (or Gnome) who ends a turn in a Level 5 Chamber recharges spells as if at the main staircase


  • Magic Swords:  instead of using the bonus listed on the treasure card for each Magic Sword (either +1 or +2 depending on the card), roll dice for the effects of teh sword when it is discovered; Roll two D6, add the number of the Level the sword was found on, and subtract 12; a result of 0 or less is a +1 bonus (this can result potentially in a +6 sword)

  • Hidden Monsters: if a hero is defeated by a monster, turn the monster card face down again until the next character enters the room.  Characters who use ESP Medalions, Cristal Balls, or the Halfling "Listen" ability look at the cards, but do not reveal what is on them to other players, placing them face-down in the room or chamber they came from.



The Expansion included miniatures and generic character cards for all six of the classes from the main game (Warrior, Thief, Wizard, Paladin, Elf, Dwarf), plus generic card and miniature for:



  • The Halfling (attacks on white like Elves do, secret door 1-3, Move 4, Ambushed on 10, Needs 10,000 to win, may "listen" at any door to discover a monster similarly to using an ESP medallion)

  • The Ranger (attacks on red like Warriors and Paladins do, secret door 1-2, Move 5, Ambushed on 9, Needs 20,000 to win, may choose to make two attacks at -1 against a single target

  • The Cleric (attacks on blue like a Dwarf, secret doors 1-2, move 5, ambushed on 8, needs 20,000 to win, can heal himself or another once per level

  • The Gnome Illusionist (attacks on green like Wizards and Rogues do, secret door 1-3, Move 4, Ambushed on 9, requires 20,000 to win, Begins with 6 [Gnome Illusionist] spells as described below)


    • Gnome spell:  Telekinesis Treasure (cast outside a room instead of moving; on 9+ a single treasure is removed from a room without fighting the monster)

    • Gnome spell:  Illusionary Warrior (essentially the same as a Lightning Bolt or Fire Ball spell, except the attack rolls on red like a warrior)

    • Gnome spell:  Teleport (identical to the Wizard spell)




 In case the newer version of the game doesn't have named characters, the named characters from "The New Dungeon! (1989)" are:



  • Devon the Warrior (sort of a Conan the Barbarian wannabe with a battle axe, berserker outfit, long hair, and a biker moustache)

  • Floid the Warrior (a guy in a leather miniskirt, helmet, high boots, longsword and shield, and big red santa-claus beard)

  • Abrana the Warrior (girl with a skimpy leather swimsuit under her cape, with a small sheild and sword and giant 1980's hair)

  • Thosia the Thief (guy in a brown leather Ninja getup, in a hilarious sneaking pose)

  • Krind the Thief (Krind has the biggest porn moustache ever, and looks like he's just too cool to bother caring)

  • Zinda the Thief (an exasperated-looking red-head with a pony tail, wearing little more than a vest; she seems posed to slap her forehead, and declare, "like, duh!")

  • Keenya the Paladin (guy in armor)

  • Flennatar the Paladin (guy in even more armor)

  • Madelyne the Paladin (gal in almost as much armor, and a hilarious little short sword to go with her shield)

  • Rast the Wizard (bald old guy in long robe, pointing dramatically at the viewer)

  • Nook the Wizard (hooded old guy in a long robe, appears to be whispering affectionately to the large hour glass in his hands)

  • Flind the Wizard (bless her, she seems to have forgotten to put on her shoes and clothes this morning!  Flind's hair is GIGANTIC.)

  • Thugg the Dwarf (totally unarmed elderly Dwarf gentleman, dressed in a hooded outfit that would look quite quite at home among Snow White and the other six dwarves:  Gunsel the Dwarf, Homeboy the Dwarf, Gangsta the Dwarf, Hoodlum the Dwaf, Goon the Dwarf, and Chauncy the Dwarf)

  • Kador the Dwarf (look out!  It's an elderly Dwarf caveman!)

  • Princilla the Dwarf (poor Princilla - nobody ever wanted her as a character; she has an apalling name she's the ugliest of the characters, and she's armed only with a stick....)

  • Longbranch the Elf (in spite of a name that must have elicted more than a few smirks from junior high school kids in his time, he's actually one of the cooler looking characters, and probably aged a little better than most:  this is pretty much what you'd hope an Elf in a fantasy RPG would look like)

  • Alonzo the Elf (the elf reincarnation of Shaggy from Scooby Doo!)

  • Kasira the Elf (awww, poor Kasira:  she looks like a little red-headed Twiggy waif orphan... always made me want to take the poor thing home and feed her something fattening....)





[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Yeah, I was kind of wondering abaut that as well on whether or not you can leave a room if you feel a monster is too tough. Plus, I was wondering if the hero that loses some of their treasure can retrive it back when you defeat the monster. Or only the other heroes can claim it.